Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Blaming Arnett
It wasn't enough for Peter Arnett to fraternize with the Iraqis, he had to go lure Walter Cronkite out of the morgue.

The old man penned a comment in today's New York Times redolent with High Church ambiguity: Arnett, or rather "Mr. Arnett hangs by a rope of his own weaving," wrote Cronkite: "His long experience makes it all the more difficult to understand how he could have been so grossly irresponsible in granting that interview. He besmirched his reputation, offended a nation and lost his job -- justifiably so -- even though he will still report for The Daily Mirror in Britain."

But then Cronkite admitted that Arnett did what any reporter would have done: "Clearly Mr. Arnett, in granting the interview, was cozying up to sources he depended on for, first, their tolerance of him in Baghdad and, second, any information he could get: about Iraq's military posture, its claims of combat successes and techniques, and the morale of its populace."

Then he concluded: "But Mr. Arnett's firing is more than a personal setback. With him gone from the airwaves, Americans have lost an eye on Baghdad that had proved a valuable addition to our knowledge of a mysterious enemy."

Guess that means Cronkite will have to watch Al-Jazeera like the rest of us.

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